Yale guard Yassine Gharram (24) stands on a table after...

Yale guard Yassine Gharram (24) stands on a table after celebrating with fans after Yale upset Auburn in a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 22, 2024. Credit: AP/Ted S. Warren

It's another year without a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket.

Surprising wins by Yale, Oakland and Duquesne busted many of the more than 22 million brackets entered in the largest contest, ESPN's Tournament Challenge, and the last three fell on Friday night when James Madison beat Wisconsin 72-61.

With only 1,825 surviving the first day of action, the number was down to single digits after Friday's early games. Florida Atlantic's loss to Northwestern knocked out about half of the survivors Thursday, with the eighth-seeded Wildcats picked in about 45% of brackets.

It was down to 306 perfect brackets on the ESPN site before No. 10 seed Colorado beat seventh-seeded Florida, leaving 62. Yale's victory over Auburn left just 10. And with just four games remaining on Friday night there were only three perfect brackets remaining on the ESPN site — and none in CBS' contest or the one on March Madness Live, the NCAA's official site.

Those three on ESPN were no longer perfect after James Madison's victory.

The quest for a winless bracket also ended Friday.

One person on the ESPN site made it through the first day and then some without picking a game correctly, meaning they took a flyer on No. 16 seed Wagner over top-seeded North Carolina but missed on the actual losses by third-seeded Kentucky and No. 6 seeds Texas Tech and Brigham Young. They dropped out of contention for the ignominious honor of a perfectly imperfect bracket when Colorado beat Florida 102-100 on a last-second shot.

Purdue center Zach Edey (15), guard Fletcher Loyer (2) and...

Purdue center Zach Edey (15), guard Fletcher Loyer (2) and forward Caleb Furst (1) walk off the court after losing to Fairleigh Dickinson 63-58 in a first-round college basketball game in the men's NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, March 17, 2023. Yes, Purdue has looked like a title contender all season and owns another 1-seed as the NCAAs begin this week. Yet one bad night at the worst possible time hangs over the program, standing as the worst of the program’s multiple March stumbles. Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

The odds of picking a perfect bracket at random — not even counting the play-in games — is 1 chance out of 2 to the 63rd power, which is 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, or about 1 in 9.2 quintillion (give or take 20 quadrillion or so). According to University of Hawaii researchers, that is more brackets than the number of grains of sand on Earth.

A record 22 million brackets were filled out on ESPN’s site, up 15% over last year, with some of the early results knocking out millions. Mississippi State's 69-51 loss to Michigan State and Brigham Young's 71-67 loss to Duquesne each took out more than 9 million brackets. The biggest upset of the first day, third-seeded Kentucky's 80-76 loss to Oakland, also did some damage: The third-seeded Wildcats were picked in 95% of brackets in the ESPN Tournament Challenge to beat the 14th-seeded Golden Grizzlies.

CBS said its last perfect bracket was spoiled when Yale won on Friday afternoon.

Last year, when there were victories by No. 15 seed Princeton and No. 13 seed Furman on the first day, the last remaining perfect brackets fell on top-seeded Purdue's loss to Fairleigh Dickinson — just the second No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in tournament history.

The BYU bench watches in the final minute of the...

The BYU bench watches in the final minute of the game against Duquesne in a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Omaha, Neb. Credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall

In the women's tournament, which started on Friday, ESPN's bracket challenge had a record 3.25 million entries — 56% more than last year. Almost half, 1.5 million, went out on Middle Tennessee's victory over Louisville and 1.3 million others were taken out when Michigan State lost to North Carolina.

CBS also reported a record number of brackets for the women's tournament, a 126% increase over last year.


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